On October 15, 2015, Ichetucknee Alliance President John Jopling and Secretary/Staff Assistant Lucinda Faulkner Merritt attended a meeting of the Columbia County Commission to speak about the siting of a poultry factory in southern Columbia County very near the Ichetucknee and Santa Fe Rivers.
While the factory does not lie within the Ichetucknee springshed, we made the decision to speak to the commissioners about it for multiple reasons:
- The Alliance is concerned not only with the springs and the river but also with the Floridan aquifer that feeds those systems AND provides our drinking water.
- Many of our members were asking us to get involved.
- We had information that we were not sure was going to be presented otherwise—information about Wendy Graham’s research at the University of Florida’s Water Institute showing that agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) are ineffective in the Suwannee River Water Management District for row crops, turf grass, dairies and poultry farms.
- The chicken factory poses a potential threat to the Santa Fe River springs and the Ichetucknee River is a tributary of the Santa Fe.
Both officers stressed the need for commissioners to re-visit Columbia County’s zoning designations in an effort to prevent a similar situation from arising in the future. You may watch their comments at 10:00 into the video here.
Here is a memorandum from the Columbia County attorney about the situation.